Vison Zero: On the way to zero fatalities

Still there are too many people dying because of traffic accidents. The Road Safety Report 2017 focuses on preventive methods, which has been established in different regions.  Furthermore, DEKRA demands specific measures for more safety in traffic.

The DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017 concerns the “Vision Zero”, the way to a safe road traffic with as few accidents as possible. Photo: DEKRA

The trend of increasing road fatalities in many states of the world makes clear that increasing road safety sustainably, means a big challenge. Whereas in 2016, there has been a positive trend in the EU, the number of road fatalities in the U.S. moved steeply upwards. According to the World Health Organisation WHO, every year about 1.25 million people lose their lives in traffic accidents worldwide. “It is strictly necessary to take countermeasures”, urges Clemens Klinke, member of the DEKRA SE executive board and responsible for the business unit Automotive, during the presentation of the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017. This year, the report, which has been yearly published since 2008, focuses “best practices” from all around the world.

Best practice: established preventive methods

At first sight, the numbers of the EU seem to be positive in general: 25,500 road fatalities in the member states in 2016 signify a decrease of 2.3 percent compared to the year before. Over the last six years, the number of road deaths in the EU dropped by 19 per cent. However, in the individual member countries, the development in 2016 was mixed. Whereas e.g. in Germany there was a decrease by 7.3 percent compared to 2015 (3,200 casualties), the “Observatoire Nationale Interministériel de la Sécurité Routière” reported that in France, the number of road fatalities increased for the third year in a row – even if “just” by 0.2 percent (from 3,461 to 3,469). According to estimates of the National Safety Council, an increase by more than 40,000 casualties has to be expected for the U.S. Already in 2015, there has been an increase by 7.5 percent.

In regards to the fact that every single traffic victim is one too much, improving road safety is one of the major societal challenges. This is even more important when the problem is seen from a global perspective instead of just single countries. “It is more urgent than ever to discuss how we can take efficient and sustainable countermeasures to achieve a significant improvement of the situation,” said Clemens Klinke during the parliamentary evening in the Baden-Wurttemberg representation house in Berlin, where the report had been presented. One efficient key could be the “best practice” method, which has been applied successfully for years in the sector of traffic safety. It includes measures, which have proven their effectiveness in some parts of the world and might also help to reduce the number of road fatalities and injured elsewhere. The DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017 presents examples from different countries for the domains humans, car technology and infrastructure as well as for all types of road users showing different approaches for attaining the goal of “Vision Zero” – a safe road traffic with as few accidents as possible.

Meaningful statistics as a basis for efficient planning

Before measures can be planned and implemented, the authorities have to think about the impact of the measures depending on the spatial territory, which level has already been achieved, how sustainable the measures could be, how many accidents can be prevented or be reduced in their severity, which interactions could arise with other actions and how the measures might influence other domains outside of road traffic. “For this reason, it is indispensable that the availability of solid and comparable accident data and statistics different countries gets improved”, requests DEKRA’s manager Mr Klinke. Still, there are considerable differences between survey methods and amounts of data between the various countries.

Large parts of the world of politics and the automobile and supply industry think that one solution to the challenges of highly motorised regions could be that vehicles become increasingly equipped for semi- or fully automated driving. It is certain that these systems (in addition to systems for assisted driving) will play a major role in all kind of vehicles in future, for increasing road safety. However, the most important factor for road safety cannot be relieved from its responsibilities. Still, the human is the crucial element. “Also in future, responsible behaviour in combination with the right evaluation of one’s abilities and a high degree of acceptance for regulations will stay the most important conditions for safe roads and saving lives in road traffic, “ reminds Klinke.

Assistance systems help drivers. Photo:

Assistance systems help drivers. Photo: BMW

As its predecessors since 2008, the recent Road Safety Report of DEKRA offers far more than an accumulation of facts about the actual state. It provides food for thoughts and concrete recommendations for actions for politics, traffic experts, manufacturers and scientific institutions and associations. At the same time, it wants to offer advice to all road users. Since more than 90 years, DEKRA is committed to the improvement of road safety. The expert organisation was one of the first signing the EU Charta for road safety; the association also supports the new EU programme of halving the number of traffic fatalities until 2020. The experts of DEKRA are valued by national and international committees as conversation partners.

The DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017 is available under www.dekra.de/verkehrssicherheitsreport-2017 for download or as online catalogue. Further content, e.g. moving images or interactive graphics can be found on the DEKRA online portal for road safety under www.dekra-roadsafety.com.

DEKRA’s requests for more road safety

  • Better international availability of founded and comparable accident data and statistics
  • Improved evaluation of efficiency of national, regional or local measures for increasing road safety
  • Thorough investigation of successful measures for road safety in regards to their transferability to other local circumstances
  • Higher market penetration of security-building driver assistance systems
  • Ensuring the functioning of mechanical and electronic components for car safety over the entire life of the car
  • Use of safety belts as life-saving measure No.1 at front and back seats
  • Disabling potential safety hazards by road construction measures and transparent traffic regulations
  • Early start of traffic education until old age, individually adapted to all groups of road users
  • Responsible and rule-consistent behaviour of all road users
  • Harsher controls and penalties for dangerous rule violations like drink-driving, smartphone distractions or speeding
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